President Trump’s allies seem to think his performance in Tuesday’s presidential debate fell a bit short. So on Wednesday they went on Trump’s favorite morning program, the relentlessly pro-Trump “Fox & Friends” on Fox News, to offer a few pointers for the next time around.

“The president interrupted way too much,” said Stephen Moore, a familiar pro-Trump commentator. “Mr. President, please don’t do that in the next debate.”

While it’s unusual for anyone on “Fox & Friends” to lecture the president, Moore certainly had a point. Trump interrupted former vice president Joe Biden so often during the debate that Biden at one point asked Trump, “Will you shut up, man?”

After the presidential debate on Sept. 29, cable news correspondents called the event "the worst" ever seen and even an "assault" on the election process. (The Washington Post)

Then there was Ari Fleischer, the former press secretary to George W. Bush, who offered his counsel to Trump with the help of visual aids. Fleischer took out a small whiteboard on which he wrote a few remedial instructions:

1) Interrupt less

2) Let Biden Flail

3) Sum it up

Summing up his sum-it-up point, Fleischer said, “Let Biden go through two or three of these episodes where he doesn’t answer anything, and then say ‘Here’s what’s going on, America.’”

If it seemed as if Trump’s self-appointed coaches were talking through the TV to Trump, that may be because he very likely was watching. Trump often tunes in to “Fox & Friends,” and will react to something said by guests or hosts in near real-time via Twitter.


But the hosts and guests on “Fox & Friends” usually come to praise Trump, not to advise him on how he can win a debate. So Moore and Fleischer’s comments implicitly amount to something Trump and his most loyal supporters have so far declined to acknowledge: He did poorly on Tuesday.

Several instant post-debate surveys backed up this impression. CNN’s poll gave Biden a huge advantage, with 60 percent said he won the debate to 28 percent for Trump. In a CBS News survey, 48 percent said Biden won while 41 percent favored Trump. They overwhelmingly called the debate’s tone negative.

“Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade also weighed in with some criticism, saying that Trump “blew the biggest layup in the history of debates” by not condemning white supremacists when he was given several opportunities by debate moderator Chris Wallace. After Biden mentioned the right-wing extremists Proud Boys, Trump said the group should “Stand back, stand by” — a phrase the Proud Boys quickly made into a T-shirt slogan.

“I don’t know if he didn’t hear it, but he’s got to clarify that right away,” Kilmeade said. “That’s like [being asked], ‘Are you against evil?’ Why the president didn’t knock that out of the park I’m not sure.”

Kilmeade did find something to dislike about Biden, saying, “If you’re going to say that President Trump was rude, there was only one person who called the other one a clown, a racist, the worst president ever and told [him] to shut up. And that was Joe Biden on Donald Trump.”

But the “Fox & Friends” hosts mostly tried a pox-on-both-houses approach by expressing disappointment with Biden and Trump.

Co-host Steve Doocy offered, “You know how you really look forward to Friday night, and you plan on going to your favorite restaurant, and you get there after a week of anticipation and it’s like ‘Hmm, that was just okay.’ I think a lot of people today are frustrated because we thought . . . we’d have a winner . . . We didn’t see that.”

His colleague, Ainsley Earhardt, struck the same disappointed tone. “Punches were thrown, it got a little nasty,” she said, adding, “But I don’t think any minds were changed after watching last night, there weren’t any big zingers.”

“We were the big losers last night,” chimed in Kilmeade, who quickly added that he was referring to voters, not the “Fox & Friends” crew.

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